Last time out…
Chennaiyin came away with a fantastic 2-1 victory from Bengaluru in a game that John Gregory managed brilliantly. Bengaluru had more of the ball, completed more passes, yet it was Chennaiyin who had more shots on goal and eventually came away with three points. Only five minutes had gone and Chennaiyin were 1-0 up and it seemed like they were going to see the game out by then Chhetri equalised for Bengaluru and it was thought that the home side would go on to win, but, the illustrious Mihelic set up Ganesh who gave Chennaiyin all three points.
Rene Muelensteen’s Kerala got their first win of the season last time out when they defeated NorthEast United 1-0, with Vineeth getting the winning goal. It was Wes Brown’s first game for the club as he played in a rather unorthodox holding midfield role, yet, he played it so, so well and it could be said that Wes Brown was the difference for Kerala. The game’s turning point was NorthEast’s keeper getting sent off, but, even still, Muelensteen will be elated to get off the mark.
The press conferences…
John Gregory is hoping that his team can go top of the league with a win against Kerala Blasters
“We sat and spoke to my players and I told them we should have more points. I’ve messed up a couple of times. But I’m delighted with the way our season has gone. Players have worked hard.”
He is also very conscious that it is a local derby and had this to say:
“We know it means a lot to our fans, just like last week (against Bengaluru FC). So, we’re ready and prepared. We are in good condition and we have a full squad to choose from,”
Gregory wants to make sure that the Chennaiyin supporters have ample opportunity to back his team;
“Our fans make a lot of noise. They are supportive of the team and we’ve given them an opportunity to do that by scoring goal”
Chennaiyin will not be allowed to relax against Kerala as Gregory added:
“It is down to me to make sure there is no complacency in our defence. We can’t underestimate anybody. I’ve been saying ATK are in a false position in the table. They won the other night and they will be particularly strong,”
He finished by saying:
“We need to be on the front foot and need to be at 100 percent,”
In the other dugout, Meulensteen wants his team to push on from their good performance last week.
“We are creating chances and hopefully can continue to score goals,”
However, he also knows the importance of having a mean defence.
“We looked strong defensively last week. It was our first win of the season and it looks very positive,”
He was not short of praise for the start that Gregory’s side has had, either, as he said:
“They have good players and have been playing well. But we have stumbled into the season really. However, the pitch looks good and I hope we can put a good performance,”
He finished by reiterating his overall plan for the season which is:
“To qualify for the play-offs. It is the aim of every team because that is the format of the tournament and the draft.”
The game itself…
Much like every other game in this league is proving, this is impossible to predict. On paper, it’s Chennaiyin’s game to lose, but with the way Meulensteen’s team can play, it could quite easily be one nil either way or it could be 4-3.
Both teams know the importance of having a strong defence and if you take out both teams encounters with Goa, they have only conceded five goals between them. So, I think it will be either a moment of magic that will separate the teams or a mistake.
Ones to watch…
Inigo Calderon – The Spanish ex-Brighton man has played every minute of every game so far this season and has proved to be instrumental to Chennaiyin’s fantastic start to the season. He does his job quietly at right back, but, if you were to take him out of the team, you will notice a big difference. He’s chipped in with a couple goals as well so Meulensteen should be asking his players to keep a close eye on Inigo who has already won the Chennaiyin fans over.
Wes Brown – I mentioned him earlier and the reason why I’m picking him as the one to watch is because if you watch what he does, he’s not going to be doing Maradona turns past people, but he’s going to be breaking up Chennaiyin’s attack and laying the balls off to the more creative players in the side. Gregory’s main purpose should be to bypass Brown because if they manage that, then they should win. If they don’t, it’ll be tight.
One more thing…
All things considered, I should probably stop doing this as it’s not working, but, if I was a betting man and luckily I am, I’d be backing Chennaiyin to come away with all three points @ 19/20.